What started as a letter to Indiana House Republicans has turned into a national story, as a lawmaker claims that the Girl Scouts are a "radicalized organization" that supports abortion and promotes "homosexual lifestyles" while "sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts."
State Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne), made his remarks in a letter sent to his fellow Indiana House Republicans on Saturday, which was obtained by the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. Morris, who was elected in 2010, explained why he would be the only member of the House to refuse to sign a resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts.
"Many parents are abandoning the Girl Scouts because they promote homosexual lifestyles," Morris wrote. "In fact, [in] the Girl Scouts education seminar girls are directed to study the example of role models. Of the fifty role models listed, only three have a briefly-mentioned religious background -- all the rest are feminists, lesbians, or Communists."
Morris says he came to his conclusions "after talking to some well-informed constituents," and conducting "a small amount of web-based research," before deducing that what he found was "disturbing."
His letter goes on to say that "boys who decide to claim a 'transgender' or cross-dressing lifestyle are permitted to become a member of a Girl Scout troop, performing crafts with the girls and participate in overnight and camping activities - just like any real girl."
The Girls Scouts have been criticized for allowing a 7-year-old transgender child into a Colorado troop last fall.
The chief operating officer of the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Cathy Ritchie, responded to Morris's assertions, and the Indianapolis affiliate of ABC quoted her as saying "The stand of the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana is definitely at odds with what he said. I'd like to just debunk that.
"Girl Scouts believe that all matters of faith and anything that's a sensitive issue at all belongs at home," Ritchie continued. "It belongs to the family. It belongs to the family's community, place of worship. That's not what we're about in Girl Scouts."
Morris claims that the Girl Scouts "is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood" and takes issue with Michelle Obama being the honorary president of the organization since "the Obama's [sic]are radically pro-abortion and vigorously support the agenda of Planned Parenthood, [which] should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization."
Ashley Sharp, assistant director of marketing for the Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana, told the Journal Gazette that "the group heard many of the concerns Morris brought up, noting there are websites dedicated to "exposing" the organization.
"It really hasn't affected us," Sharp told the newspaper. "Our membership is still strong and our cookie sales are up from last year."
The story has been picked up by national publications, including The Associated Press.
Though the controversy is not mentioned on the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana's website, the top link on the website's homepage says "Have questions about where we stand on sensitive issues? Visit Girl Scouts of the USA's FAQs."It states the Girls Scouts' official stance on human sexuality, birth control, and abortion is that it "does not take a position or develop materials on these issues. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives."
Morris concludes his letter by saying now that he is "aware of the influence of Planned Parenthood within GSA and other surprisingly radical policies of GSA" his two daughters will no longer be active Girl Scout members. Instead they will become active in an organization in which "they will learn about values and principles that will not confuse their conservative Hoosier upbringing."